What is an order for specific performance of a contract in property matters?

In England and Wales, an Order for Specific Performance of a property contract is a legal remedy that can be sought from the court when one party fails to fulfil their obligations under a contract for the sale or purchase of a property. It is a discretionary remedy that aims to enforce the terms of the contract and compel the defaulting party to perform their contractual obligations.

Specific Performance is an alternative to seeking damages for breach of contract. Instead of seeking monetary compensation, the party seeking specific performance asks the court to order the defaulting party to carry out their contractual obligations as agreed upon in the contract. This typically involves completing the sale or purchase of the property according to the terms and conditions outlined in the contract.

To obtain an Order for Specific Performance, the party seeking the remedy must demonstrate the following:

  1. Valid and Enforceable Contract: The party must show that a valid and enforceable contract for the sale or purchase of the property exists. This requires demonstrating that there was a clear offer, acceptance, consideration and intention to create legal relations.
  2. Breach of Contract: The party must prove that the other party has breached the terms of the contract. This could include failing to complete the sale or purchase, refusing to transfer ownership or failing to meet other contractual obligations.
  3. Suitability for Specific Performance: The court will consider whether specific performance is an appropriate remedy in the circumstances. Factors such as the uniqueness of the property, availability of alternative remedies and practicality of enforcing the order will be taken into account.

If the court grants an Order for Specific Performance, it will typically set out a specific timeframe within which the defaulting party must fulfil their obligations. Failure to comply with the court’s order may result in further legal consequences, such as contempt of court.

It is important to note that specific performance is a discretionary remedy, and the court will consider various factors before granting such an order. It is advisable to seek legal advice from a property law solicitor who can assess the specific circumstances of your case and guide you through the process of seeking specific performance or exploring alternative remedies for breach of contract.

If you have been the victim of a failed completion of either a sale or purchase it is important to act quickly. Why not give one of our expert property lawyers a call on 020 7537 7000 or email peter@london-law.co.uk for a free, no obligation quotation and see what we can do for you?

This blog was prepared by Alexander JLO’s senior partner, Peter Johnson on the 6th October 2023 and is correct at the time of publication. With decades of experience in almost all areas of law, Peter is happy to assist with any legal issue that you have. His profile on the independent Review Solicitor website can be found Here

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